Waimauku Man Finds His Great Great Grandfather At Gallipoli

30 April 2013

F/S Wilson lays a poppy at the memorial wall with his great great grandfathers name.

If someone had said to Flight Sergeant (F/S) Chris Wilson that he would be overcome with emotion when he found his Great Great Grandfather's name at the memorial at Chunuk Bair, Gallipoli, he would have laughed at them. But that is exactly what happened when he was there recently for the Anzac Day services.

F/S Wilson was thrilled when he was selected to be the Flag Orderly at the Anzac Day commemorative services. He saw it as a chance to represent both the NZ Defence Force, and also his family.

Each year the NZ Defence Force sends a small contingent to Gallipoli to provide ceremonial and musical support to two services on the peninsula. The first is a combined Anzac Day Dawn Service with the Australians. The second is a late morning New Zealand service at Chunuk Bair.

Waimauku's F/S Wilson is a machine tool setter and operator with the Royal New Zealand Air Force based at RNZAF Base Auckland. He comes from a family who have a long and proud service record that stretches back to the Gallipoli campaign.

F/S Wilson's Great Great Grandfather, Edward Douglas Wilson, joined the Canterbury Infantry Regiment, and fought and died in the battle for Chunuk Bair on 7 August 1915.

In a letter to his wife three days before he died, Edward Wilson wrote, "Suddenly there came a cry - For God's sake blaze in to that ridge opposite...

"Looking across we could see the Turks, hitherto taken by surprise but now, favoured by the sunlight, swarming from behind Sari Bair in to fine big trenches...

"Ted was next to me on the left, about five feet away. Suddenly I heard a sound, and, screwing around saw him collapse... a bullet had caught him fair in the middle of the top of his forehead... I crawled out of my hole again, and getting his field dressing, tried to bandage up his wounds but it was beyond me...a few minutes later he was gone."

While at Gallipoli, F/S Wilson took a copy of the letter written to his Great Great Grandmother and walked the path from Anzac Cove to Chunuk Bair that cost the life of his relative, Edward Wilson.

In that hour and a half trek F/S Wilson got a small insight in to what it had taken Edward Wilson's Regiment four months to achieve.

"It was a challenging walk and I wasn't carrying a weapon, pack or being shot at. It was very steep in parts with places with sheer drops down the side," he said.

"Once we got to the top I found find my Great Great Grandfather's name on the memorial wall quite quickly. The emotions just hit me and I just choked up."

F/S Wilson found the whole experience of being at the commemoration services both humbling and an honour to be involved in.

"The Anzac Day Dawn Service was something really special, and as I looked out over the thousands of young Kiwis and Australians, I thought that my Great Great Grandfather and his comrades hadn't been that much older than them when they landed here.

"Later we had a New Zealand only service at Chunuk Bair and this is where it became personal for me, thinking this is where he died."

After the service F/S Wilson laid poppies by Edward Wilson's name and saluted.

It is a memory that will be with him forever.


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This page was last reviewed on 2 May 2013.